President Obama at the Holocaust Memorial Museum

President Barack Obama tours the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., with Sara Bloomfield, museum director, and Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor, April 23, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama announced yesterday that he would posthumously award a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a Polish Catholic who came forward in 1942 with one of the first eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust. In his remarks at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the President also explained what his administration is doing to help prevent such horrific events in the future:

We’re making sure that the United States government has the structures, the mechanisms to better prevent and respond to mass atrocities. So I created the first-ever White House position dedicated to this task. It’s why I created a new Atrocities Prevention Board, to bring together senior officials from across our government to focus on this critical mission. This is not an afterthought. This is not a sideline in our foreign policy. The board will convene for the first time today, at the White House.

Going forward, we’ll strengthen our tools across the board, and we’ll create new ones. The intelligence community will prepare, for example, the first-ever National Intelligence Estimate on the risk of mass atrocities and genocide. We’re going to institutionalize the focus on this issue. Across government, “alert channels” will ensure that information about unfolding crises—and dissenting opinions—quickly reach[es] decision-makers, including me.

Our Treasury Department will work to more quickly deploy its financial tools to block the flow of money to abusive regimes. Our military will take additional steps to incorporate the prevention of atrocities into its doctrine and its planning. And the State Department will increase its ability to surge our diplomats and experts in a crisis. USAID will invite people and high-tech companies to help create new technologies to quickly expose violations of human rights. And we’ll work with other nations so the burden is better shared—because this is a global responsibility.

For more on what the Obama administration is doing to prevent atrocities and genocide around the world, check out the President’s full remarks from the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

President Obama’s Fighting to Prevent Student Loan Interest Rates from Doubling

When it comes to preparing Americans for the jobs of the future and growing a strong middle class, higher education has never been more important. It’s also never been more expensive. College tuition costs have been on the increase for years, and for the first time, Americans owe more debt on student loans than credit cards. And it could get worse in just over two months: If Congress doesn’t take action soon, interest on subsidized Stafford student loans will double on July 1. 7.4 million students will be, on average, $1,000 more in debt each year Congress doesn’t act.

Students have a staunch advocate in President Obama. After all, this President knows what the burden of student loans is like—both he and the First Lady went to school on loans and didn’t pay them off until 2004. President Obama has consistently supported efforts to keep college affordable: He doubled our investment in Pell Grants to help more than 3.7 million more students afford college. He fought for a college tax credit that’s worth up to $10,000 over four years of college. And he capped student loan payments at 10 percent of monthly income, which will help 1.6 million students stay afloat as they start their careers.

And now, President Obama is calling on Congress to act to keep interest rates down, calling higher education “an economic imperative every family must be able to afford.” The Republicans’ presumptive nominee, Mitt Romney, on the other hand, suggests students “shop around” if they’re worried about the costs of affording a college degree.

Romney has proclaimed his support for the Ryan budget, which would let student loan interest rates double and the college tax credit that helps 9 million families expire. And it would make massive cuts to Pell Grants and other education funding in favor of tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, who, no doubt, have little trouble affording college.

Republican policies don’t just hurt students and working families—they hurt our entire economy